Field Stories

African Virtual University launches ten-country distance learning facility

Ten more African universities are now connected to the largest network of Open Distance and eLearning institutions on the Continent – the African Virtual University. With the launch phase of the ten-country distance learning facility, which started in October 2009 and will last until early 2010, Africa’s most innovative virtual platform for higher education will provide thousands of African students with access to quality education and research.In a move designed to provide African students with greater access to higher-education opportunities, the African Virtual University (AVU) in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB) is launching Open Distance and eLearning Centres (ODeL) in ten African countries over the next five months. The first launch took place at the University of Zambia in October with subsequent launches in Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Senegal, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe, the effort continuing until early 2010.

The expansion will enable more universities to introduce eLearning into their existing curricula and create a community of peers that will generate original research on eLearning methodologies. It will also help universities generate a long-term and sustainable revenue base.

[callout title=About AVU]Founded in 1997, the African Virtual University (AVU) is a Pan-African intergovernmental organisation whose aim is significantly to increase access to quality higher education and training through the innovative use of information and communications technologies.

AVU has awarded degrees to 40,000 students across Africa and, with locations in over thirty countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, is the Continent’s largest network of Open Distance and eLearning institutions. Its greatest asset is its ability to work across borders and languages in Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone Africa.

In 2009, the AVU trained 133 staff members from 24 universities in 17 countries to use eLearning methods in their curricula and in the management of distance learning programmes. AVU also serves as an advocate for women’s education and acts on behalf of students living in conflict and post-conflict zones. In Somalia, 4,000 students have graduated from AVU and thirty per cent of them are women.

The AVU is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya and has a regional office in Dakar, Senegal.[/callout]

“This initiative is driven by our desire to see Africa develop to a level where its citizens can compete with anyone in the world. The talent has always been here. AVU’s role is to ensure that people have access to the education that they will need to advance themselves and the Continent”, noted Dr Bakary Diallo, AVU’s Rector.

The new ODeL centres will add to AVU’s network that now has over fifty eLearning centres. They will be co-located in the following universities: Jimma University in Ethiopia, University of Nairobi in Kenya, Université d‘Antananarivo in Madagascar, Universidade Pedagógica in Mozambique, Université Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD) in Senegal, Kyambogo University in Uganda, University of Zambia, and the University of Zimbabwe. The centres are set up within the framework of the AVU Multinational Project funded by the African Development Bank.

This initiative marks another milestone for AVU, which was originally established to address the digital divide by helping Africa overcome geographic, technological, political and financial obstacles that often hindered students’ access to higher education. Since its inception in 1997, AVU has pioneered an innovative learning platform, the AVU Learning Architecture, designed specifically to adapt eLearning to the unique African context. In the last decade, AVU has also established the largest network of Open Distance and eLearning institutions in sub-Saharan Africa – in over thirty countries.

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